The smell of sausages hung heavy in the air as the vegetarian Doula and her back-up Doula entered the room. I offered herbal tea as a way of making amends. Her sidekick was in a bright orange fleece, possibly the worst clothing crime I can think of, but I put this from my mind as I served up the tap water that they had both requested and we set to business.
I explained that my previous birth wasn’t great. I had wanted a home birth and did most of my 22 hour labour at home. As the pain kicked in, off went the hypnobirthing CD and on went the hardcore ragga. I was getting myself psyched up for battle.
When the midwives arrived I became self conscious, switched off my music and before I knew it, it was all about internal examinations and dilation measurements and whether I was meeting their targets. In the end, my son was born with a little help from the episiotomy fairy, in hospital, while I lay on my back.
It was everything I had been trying to avoid.
I think the cherry on the cake was when the woman, entrusted with the stitching up of my vagina, stuck her finger up my arse without so much as an ‘excuse me’. When I complained I was asked, "Didn't I want her to do a good job?" I just thought that everybody agreed it was common courtesy to knock before you enter, or ask before you shove a digit up someone's anus - but maybe I'm just old-fashioned?
When it was all over I was surprised not to be sat on a polystyrene tray, looking out through some cellophane, on the shelf at Tesco’s, as part of a 2 for £5 deal.
Nothing went seriously wrong, but looking back I was actually having fun up until the midwives arrived. Almost everything I didn’t want to happen, happened, and it wasn’t in the least bit empowering.
This time I want to protect my choices. This time I’m sending in the big guns: The Doulas.
That’s right baby, The Big Doula Guns.
This time, there’s no fucking way I’m setting foot inside a hospital unless I’m on the verge of death. For one thing I want a stiff drink when I’m done. Waiting 48 hours for a shot of rum to ease the post-birth trauma, or a glass of celebratory champagne, is just not fair on a girl.
Secondly, I want my own bed, my own shower, my own peace and quiet, my own choice of food and I don’t want to be waiting endlessly for doctors to come and tell me something I already know: that my baby is fine.
So last night The Doulas stayed for three hours, ate a pound of cherries, a huge bunch of grapes and a large punnet of strawberries. We laughed about the nun/midwife who came to my last birth, to whom I kept apologising as I cursed ‘Jesus Christ!’ thinking that this was better than shouting out “This fucking hurts!”
We discussed my feelings on nipple tweaking (not on your nelly), breastfeeding (unlikely), delivering the placenta naturally (let’s wait and see) and everything in-between. I made it clear in a roundabout way that I was by no means a full on hippy. I don’t need to cook the placenta or get Bushman to cut the cord or lick the vernix off my child or do any kind of special bonding with anybody. I just want to have my baby as naturally as I feel comfortable to, without people prodding and manipulating me unnecessarily.
And for god’s sake, when it’s all over will someone pass me a fucking drink……….
Haven't got a clue what a Doula is? See here.